In this article on HTML we’re going to discuss HTML forms, why they’re important and how to use them effectively in plain English so everyone can understand their use.

One of the most important things about any web site that you’ll put together is to be able to collect information from your visitors, either for the purpose of sending them news of your products or services in future emails, or for the direct purpose of processing orders, in which case you would need things like name and address for shipping purposes. In order to gather this information HTML makes use of forms.

A form in HTML is pretty similar to a form that one would see in the offline world, such as when you’re filling out an application for employment or a loan. On these forms you would most likely include your name, social security number, address and a variety of information depending on what the form itself is used for. With HTML, which is what makes up a web page, the form is not written in but typed in by the visitor. The typed information can be input in a variety of ways depending on the form element itself. We’re going to cover the most common form elements.

The main form command in HTML is the form tag. This tag is where you designate the form name, how the form itself will behave and what the form will do after it processes the information. In most cases forms will take the information and either pass it along to another web page or write the information to a database to keep for future reference.

The most common way to gather information with a form is with the use of the text box. This is a variable length one line rectangular area where the visitor types information such as name and address. Usually a separate text box is used for each individual piece of information. In other words, there will be one text box for first name and another text box for last name and so on. This way each piece of information can be easily written to a database or another page.

Another common way to gather info is the text area box. This is similar to the text box except it can be multiple rows deep. A box like this is usually used to collect information like comments or what is referred to as additional information. Text area boxes are very useful for when a visitor to a site is submitting something like an article for publication which can be many paragraphs long. Text area boxes make this information easy to read.

Another common way to gather info is with drop down box. This is where a visitor chooses from a list of options such as picking what state he or she lives in. Many sites use these instead of having the visitor type in the state manually. This assures that a valid state is chosen.

There are many other form elements to cover which we’ll do in future articles in this series.


Michael Russell

Your Independent guide to HTML []

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